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7th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference - Councilman Weiner's Report

February 7-9, 2007, I attended the annual 7th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities Conference in Washington, DC.The New Partners for Smart Growth Conference  is considered to be the "premier" smart growth conference held each year. The strength of this conference comes from the variety of participants and speakers who cross disciplines to share experiences and insights, and valuable tools and strategies to encourage smart growth implementation and "get it done."Washington, DC is the ideal location for this event. Bringing together the cultural vibrancy and economic growth with the iconic history of our nation's capital and its neighborhoods, this region provides a wealth of innovative policies at the state, local and federal levels to examine. Whether it’s the overwhelming success of the transit system, creative housing strategies to promote affordability or environmental benchmarks to ensure clean air and water, significant lessons about smart growth can be learned here. The conference drew a multidisciplinary audience of local elected officials, city and county staff, landscape architects, developers and builders, planners, transportation professionals and traffic engineers, public health professionals, architects, bankers, crime prevention professionals, realtors, urban designers, parks and recreation professionals, environmentalists, advocates for older adults and youth, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, advocates for social equity and affordable housing, labor representatives, and all others committed to building safer, healthier, and more livable communities everywhere.I attended the following sessions and took detailed meeting minutes. I brought back an array of relevant course materials. I also took photos during the tour. I have appended the course descriptions. I would be pleased to share the details with anyone who is interested in any of these subjects. I selected sessions which, in my opinion, would both enhance my knowledge base and also be relevant to the challenges we face in New Castle County. Thursday Feb 7  11 AM to 12:30 PM Do Boilerplate Fire Codes Stand in the Way of Smart Growth Developments? This session will explore the myth and reality of narrow streets, fire codes, and broad public safety issues. The Smart Growth community has as many stories of bad experiences with fire codes as it does good examples of communities with narrow streets. This year's workshop is structured differently from past sessions. It will focus on facts, case studies, and practical materials to take home and help inform your community. It will examine questions like: Is there evidence that wide streets are dangerous? Are fire departments really responding to fewer and fewer fire calls each year? Are medical calls to automobile accidents soaring in their place? What design solutions in a narrow street environment can provide access and setup room for fire departments? Do "model" fire codes really prevent local officials from approving narrow streets? Hear the results of recent research and experience from planning, street design, development, and fire officials.1 to 5 PMTour #8 – Arlington’s 30 Years of Smart Growth in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor
This is your chance to get a first hand look at Arlington Virginia's Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, the winner of the first HUD Award for Smart Growth Achievement and a prototype for creative, cutting-edge, transit oriented planning and development, and the experienced staff that has been involved in the planning and development of this corridor. This corridor has seen the development of 15 million square feet of office, over 19,000 units and 4,460,000 sq. ft. of retail, all within about ¼ mile from a Metro station entrance, since 1970. This session will be a 3 hour tour with a presentation on Arlington County's experience with smart growth in one of its two transit corridors (the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor) followed by a walking tour to see first hand how Arlington created these walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods well served by public transportation. Transportation includes Metro and walking.
Cost: $38 Friday Feb 7 8:40 to 10 AMLet’s Change the Climate: Leadership for Achieving a Better EnvironmentThe discussion about climate change has reached a tipping point across the country. It is being discussed throughout Congress and into the heartland. Inspiration comes from reducing dependence on oil to using more efficient appliances. No matter the cause and effect it is clear that the built environment impacts the natural environment. Specifically, smart growth can contribute to achieving green house gas reductions. This plenary will focus on the elements of smart growth that can contribute to this reduction and impact upon our environment. Using that framework as a foundation, a dialogue of several groundbreaking leaders will share their insight on their policies for accomplishing these changes. 10:15 to 11:30 AMLong Strides in Smart Growth Coding in a Short Time Smart growth isn't just for progressive municipalities on the coasts. Nor is it simply for quaint hamlets nestled in natural resources. Communities across the country are finding that coding for smart growth is possible in a relatively short period of time given the right mixture of political will and community advocacy techniques. This session reveals how two communities — one in the Deep South, the other from the Midwest — successfully fostered smart growth development through the adoption of the SmartCode and a Traditional Neighborhood Development ordinance, respectively.

  • Nathan Norris, Director of Implementation Advisory, PlaceMakers, L.L.C.
  • Robert Thompson, Executive Director, Porter County, IN
1:30 to 2:45 PMThe Business Case: Smart Growth for Developers and Production Builders While proponents of smart growth are familiar with the environmental, health, and other benefits of this development strategy, there are also business reasons for developers and builders to consider investing in smart growth projects. After all, smart growth in its built form is real estate and development. Come hear a market-oriented approach that explains the smart growth opportunity based on demographic changes and consumer preferences, supply and demand factors, housing premiums, infrastructure and construction efficiencies, existing market leaders, and other competitive strategies. If you are considering developing a smart growth project or you are interested in such a project coming to your community, hear why this type of development can be an advantageous business model - while also achieving the broader goals and outcomes of smart growth.
  • Lee Sobel, Real Estate Development and Finance Analyst, U.S. EPA
  • Matthew Dalbey, Ph.D., AICP, Senior Policy Analyst, U.S. EPA
  • Jonathan Ford, PE, Principal, Morris Beacon Design
3 to 5 PMUsing TIFs, Special Districts, and Other Public Finance Tools to Spur Smart Growth State and local governments are increasingly using financing tools such as tax increment financing (TIF), land-secured bonds, and community development districts to incentivize and fund the construction of residential and mixed-use projects in targeted growth areas. While tools such as TIF have historically been used to alleviate urban blight, they are now being applied to suburban greenfield and redevelopment projects as well. Hear how the public and private sectors are collaborating to use these tools creatively to leverage investment.
  • Debbie Bassert, Assistant Staff Vice President, Land Use Policy, National Association of Home Builders
  • Greg LeRoy, Executive Director, Good Jobs First
  • Councilor Michael J. Cadigan, City of Albuquerque, NM
  • Ken Powell, Managing Director, Public Finance, Stone & Youngberg LLD
Saturday February 98:40 AM to 10 AMWhere are the Biggest Opportunities in Smart Growth and What Can You do to Capitalize?There are so many ways to change development — tax codes, zoning regulations, infrastructure finance policies, environmental rules — it's not always obvious where the big opportunities are. This session will get back to basics, reviewing actions at the federal, state and local level that can have a big impact for a small investment.  Speakers will discuss those that are politically ripe for action and what you can do to take advantage of the opportunity.
  • Doug Foy, President, DIF Enterprises
  • Gene Krebs, State Director, Greater Ohio
  • Chris Zimmerman, Boardmember, Arlington County Board, VA
  • William A. Johnson, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Public Policy, Rochester Institute of Technology; Mayor, Rochester NY, 1994-2005
  • Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO, Smart Growth America
10:15 AM to 12:15 PMHow Do We Play the Federal Game?Major pieces of legislation that could benefit smart growth are proposed all the time in the US Congress. What are they? How can we mobilize to play a role in forming this legislation? How can smart growth policies, and its diverse constituents, best advance these important pieces of legislation? This implementation session will feature Congressional staff discussing upcoming national legislation on climate change, energy, transportation authorization, and the farm bill. Workshop participants will break out into groups with each speaker and a moderator to brainstorm a strategic plan for smart growth engagement on these national legislative agendas.
  • Maria Zimmerman, Vice President for Policy, Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented
  • Bettina Poirier, Counsel, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (invited)
  • Amy Scarton, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Transportation
  • Kate Rube, Policy Director, Smart Growth America
  • Jason Jordan, Principal, Advocacy Associates
1:30 to 2:45 PMLeading State Legislation on Smart Growth Come meet leaders from NGOs and state governments to hear about the latest state legislation and policies being proposed to implement smart growth. These speakers will present samples of legislation under debate from the northeast to the southwest.  See how smart growth is customized for each political environment. Discuss how to adapt these ideas to your state work and expand your state campaign for smart growth.
  • Laurie Moskowitz, Partner, FieldWorks
  • Heidi Green, President, 1000 Friends of Connecticut
  • Tim Davis, Director, Montana Smart Growth Coalition, Sonoran Institute
3 PM to 4:15 PMDo TDRs Really Help Smart Growth? What Works and What Doesn't Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) programs have recently become popular among communities working towards Smart Growth.  TDR programs appeal to landowners as, in theory, it will allow all the landowners to participate in the real estate market while allowing the community to build up density in appropriate areas. What are the components of successful TDR programs? What are the ingredients for failure? Should communities use TDRs to get to smart growth?
  • Smart Growth Leadership Institute - TBA
  • Susan Weaver, President and Founder, Weaver Consulting Group
  • Bill Fulton, President, Solimar Research Group; Councilmember, City of Ventura, CA
4:15 PM to 5 PMGetting to “Green TEA”: Strategies for a Smarter Approach to ReauthorizationThe future of transportation is the need to enhance the opportunities for multi-modal options for movement. With New Starts, Road Diets, Safe Routes to School, and Hiker-Biker Trails each taking a priority place in the development of smart growth oriented transportation options, communities have more tools available to address their transportation needs. Yet even with the progress made since the last reauthorization, a critical need exists to enhance policies and legislation to enable the most effective array of options available for movement. Two national experts will break down the strategies for ensuring that the tools, funding and incentives are included in the next funding bill. Jim Charlier will discuss the importance of the reauthorization and what policy changes need to be made, while Shelly Poticha will review the mechanics and the infrastructure of getting it done.
  • Mariia Zimmerman, Vice President for Policy, Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented
  • Jim Charlier, AICP, President, Charlier Associates, Inc.
I hope that you will all mark your calendars for next year when the 8th Annual New partners for Smart Growth Conference will be held January 22-24, 2009 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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